Red Jacket Firearms grew from a boutique manufacturer to a national brand nearly overnight due to reality television, and may return to near obscurity for the same reasons.
Red Jacket Firearms grew from a boutique manufacturer to a national brand nearly overnight due to reality television, and may return to near obscurity for the same reasons. (Image via The Red Jacket web site).

Like most of America, I’d never heard of Red Jacket Firearms before Discovery Channel’s reality television series, Son of Guns.

Sons of Guns revolved around the “family-owned” boutique gun business as they manufactured custom firearms for law enforcement, security companies, and collectors. I watched the series occasionally, which primarily revolved around Will Hayden, who was presented as the owner of the company, his daughter Stephanie, who was the office manager, and a select number of other employees who worked at Red Jacket Firearms including Kristafor Ford, the Red Jacket production manager who dated and later married Stephanie Hayden.

Episodes of the show typically started with a customer asking for a unique firearm, and then the episode followed the trials and drama as they attempted to build the firearm in question. The episodes ended with an over-the-top “test” of the created firearm that usually involved pyrotechnic explosions.

The show made the family at the center of the show relatively famous, and certainly boosted the visibility of the Red Jacket brand. The brand quickly became coveted as a result of the show, and customer orders poured in. Reportedly, the backlog of firearms of other products bearing the Red Jacket label grew to be very substantial.

Things seemed to be going well until the show was suddenly cancelled in August of this year after Will Hayden was arrested on charges that he molested his 12-year-old daughter.

Will Hayden’s older daughter Stephanie Hayden-Ford and her husband Kristafor Ford then strongly hinted that Will Hayden had molested her as well, and then she made her allegations public when she appeared on Dr. Phil. At least one other relative also came forward to accuse Will Hayden of abuse, and he is currently in jail and unable to make bail, facing charges in two separate Louisiana parishes.

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